Ephemeral Vision

In Thomas Crowther & Clare Mac Cumhaill (eds.), Perceptual Ephemera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 312-339 (2018)
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Vision is organized around material objects; they are most of what we see. But we also see beams of light, depictions, shadows, reflections, etc. These things look like material objects in many ways, but it is still visually obvious that they are not material objects. This chapter articulates some principles that allow us to understand how we see these ‘ephemera’. H.P. Grice’s definition of seeing is standard in many discussions; here I clarify and augment it with a criterion drawn from Fred Dretske. This enables me to re-analyse certain ephemera that have received counter-intuitive treatments in the work of Kendall Walton (photographs), Brian O’Shaughnessy (light), and Roy Sorenson (occlusions).
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